Pork-barrelling should be banned under ministerial code: ex-ICAC boss

Summary: Call for Pork-Barrelling Ban in Federal Ministerial Code of Conduct Peter Hall, former chief of the NSW corruption watchdog, advocates for a ban on pork-barrelling in the federal Ministerial Code of Conduct, arguing that it can equate to criminal conduct when public funds are allocated for party-political gain. This push is part of the… Read More

31 former judges call for the establishment of a National Integrity Commission

Media release embargo 6am 18th May 2022 31 former judges have signed an open letter calling on political leaders to establish a National Integrity Commission. Signatories include former judge of the High Court Mary Gaudron QC, former Chief Justice of Queensland Catherine Holmes AC QC, and former Federal Court judge Michael Barker QC. The letter states: “Despite… Read More

Christian Porter reveals part of legal fees paid by blind trust with funds from unknown source

By Paul Karp, originally published in the Guardian, 14 September 2021. Christian Porter has revealed that part of his defamation legal fees were paid by a blind trust with funds from an unknown source. The industry and science minister updated his register of interests on Monday, revealing that the Legal Services Trust had paid part… Read More

Calls grow for Victorian Parliament to move online as COVID-19 lockdown drags on

By Bridget Rollason, originally published on ABC News 14 September 2021. The Victorian government has had legal advice for more than a year that State Parliament can sit online, but hasn’t acted on it. Key points: Legal advice has found Victoria’s Parliament can function online Two sitting weeks have been suspended to comply with COVID-19 restrictions The… Read More

‘Ministers have too much control’: $10b in taxpayer funds put at risk

By David Crowe, originally published in the Sydney Morning Herald 3rd August 2021. Federal funds are being put at risk in schemes handing out more than $10 billion with inadequate checks on ministerial power, according to a new study of programs ranging from job projects to commuter car parks. At least eight schemes have fallen… Read More

Liberal party donor’s revenue from uncontested contracts for offshore processing rises to $1.5bn

By Ben Doherty and Christopher Knaus, originally published in the Guardian 21st July 2021. Canstruct International, the Brisbane company and Liberal party donor running Australia’s offshore processing regime on Nauru, has won another uncontested contract extension – $180m over six months – bringing its total revenue from island contracts over the past five years to… Read More

Regulations governing conduct of Australia’s federal MPs are weakest of comparable nations, study finds

By Christopher Knaus, originally published in the Guardian 12th July 2021. The failure to implement a parliamentary code of conduct has made Australia’s regulation of federal politicians’ conduct the weakest among comparable nations, research has found. Unlike the United Kingdom and Canada, Australia lacks any enforceable code governing the behaviour of MPs, and unlike New… Read More

Coalition’s proposed anti-corruption commission would have no power to investigate recent controversies

By Christopher Knaus, originally published in the Guardian 9th July 2021. The Coalition’s proposed federal anti-corruption body would have no power to investigate dozens of integrity, expense and pork-barrelling controversiesthat havecome to light in recent years, the Guardian has found. An analysis of 40 political controversies, conducted jointly by Guardian Australia and the Centre for… Read More

Opposition demands answers over “parking rorts”

Originally published on ABC 7.30 Report, 29th June 2021. SCOTT MORRISON, PRIME MINISTER: Last week, David and I together with Alan Tudge, outlined our plan, serious plan, to manage population growth across Australia and a key component of that plan was the urban congestion-busting fund. ELIAS CLURE, REPORTER: Seven weeks out from the last election,… Read More

Government ducked scrutiny on state of emergency powers, integrity group says

By Michael Fowler, originally published in the Age, 23rd June 2021. The Victorian government avoided scrutiny on its wide-reaching state of emergency powers last year through a technicality, an independent group of lawyers has found. As the Andrews government privately negotiates specific pandemic laws to permanently replace the state of emergency when it expires in… Read More

Commonwealth Integrity Commission has ‘serious deficiencies’: Judges, police and lawyers

By David Crowe, originally published in the Sydney Morning Herald 25th May 2021. A federal pledge to crack down on corruption is struggling to gain support from police and legal experts who believe the draft plan is too weak to catch politicians and public servants who break the law. Corruption experts are urging the government… Read More

Zero, zlich, nada: the saddest number in the budget was the ‘0’ for government integrity

By Anthony Whealy, originally published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 19th May 2021. The budget is now well and truly out and about. At face value, it looks attractive and is likely to succeed as a political lever to the government’s continuation in power: childcare, aged care, women’s protections. The overall theme, “recovery budget”,… Read More

Federal anti-corruption body won’t be operational before next election, budget papers reveal

By Christopher Knaus, originally published in the Guardian 12th May 2021. The Coalition is not planning for its anti-corruption commission to be up and running prior to the next election, the budget papers reveal, prompting allegations it has “no real intention of acting on corruption”. The Commonwealth Integrity Commission model has been beset by delay… Read More

Mates getting plum government jobs? There must be an election coming up

By Jenna Price, originally published in the Sydney Morning Herald 4th May 2021. Seriously, this is the worst. In the last five months, 13 former Liberal MPs and political staffers have been appointed to federal government jobs. Don’t imagine it’s a burst of recent activity though. By 2019, the Liberal government had managed to appoint… Read More

Leppington triangle: Coalition’s $30m purchase of airport land ‘incompetent or corrupt’

By Michael McGowan, originally published in the Guardian 29th April 2021. The federal government’s controversial $30m purchase of the Leppington triangle site was either the result of “gross incompetence or corruption”, a parliamentary inquiry has heard. Geoffrey Watson SC, the director of the Centre of Public Integrity, told a Senate inquiry the purchase of a… Read More

‘Deeply concerning’: government consultant made millions from NSW environmental offsets

By Lisa Cox, originally published in the Guardian 28 April 2021. An environmental consultant who holds interests in a property that made more than $40m selling conservation offsets to governments is part of a consortium that has made tens of millions of dollars more, Guardian Australia can reveal. Steven House is a former director of… Read More

Calls for urgent integrity review of public transport amid IBAC probe

By Timna Jacks, originally published in the Age 3rd April 2021. A former counsel assisting NSW’s anti-corruption watchdog has joined the Victorian opposition in calling for an urgent, wide-ranging audit of Victoria’s public transport contracts in the wake of allegations of serious corruption on Melbourne’s railways. Six months after the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission launched… Read More

‘Highly problematic for public trust’: Australian political donations revealed

By David Crowe, originally published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 18th January 2021. A surge in donations at the last federal election has taken the resource industry’s political payments to $136.8 million over two decades and a new analysis has named the sector as the biggest donor in Australian politics. Mining and gas companies… Read More

Victorian Government offers compromise on state of emergency, crossbench MP says

By the ABC, originally posted on the 27th of August. A key crossbench MP says the State Government has approached her with a compromise proposal which would allow the state of emergency to be extended by a further six months, rather than a year as originally proposed. Key points: Reason Party leader Fiona Patten said… Read More

$150 million sports grants program implemented before guidelines in place

By Andrew Probyn, originally broadcast on 7.30 Report on 22nd July 2020. ANDREW PROBYN, POLITICAL EDITOR: Torquay, on Victoria’s rugged coast, has seen many a ding-dong battle. (Vision of a surfing competition at Bells Beach) Bells Beach, not far from Torquay, has some of the world’s most challenging surf – a fact celebrated in celluloid.… Read More

Federal Parliament prepares for virtual sittings in case of further COVID outbreak

By Rob Harris, originally published in the Sydney Morning Herald 6th July 2020. Federal Parliament could be able to sit virtually by the time it returns in August, with detailed planning under way to allow MPs and senators to speak and vote in both chambers without physically being in Canberra. Parliamentary officials have been working… Read More

Branch-stacking and sports rorts scandals call for national anti-corruption watchdog with teeth

Opinion piece by Stephen Charles, originally published in the Guardian 19th June 2020. The government’s proposed commonwealth integrity commission will be ‘the weakest and most ineffective such body in this country’ This week’s allegations of systemic branch-stacking and misuse of public money again show the urgent need for stronger anti-corruption measures – not only in… Read More

‘Who’s going to protect Albo’: Tapes show how powerbroker controls ALP

By Nick McKenzie, Joel Tozer, and Sumeyya Ilanbey, originally published in the Age 15 June 2020. A Victorian Labor Party powerbroker has threatened to end the careers of several federal MPs, while also claiming to be “protecting” Anthony Byrne, deputy chair of the Australian Parliament’s powerful intelligence committee. Secret footage shows MP Adem Somyurek handing… Read More

Cabinet ministers charge taxpayers for trip involving Liberal party fundraiser

By Christopher Knaus, originally published in the Guardian 15 June 2020. Three cabinet ministers charged taxpayers more than $4,500 for an overnight trip to Sydney during which they mingled with mining and banking donors at a lucrative Liberal party fundraiser hosted by Channel Nine. Stuart Robert, Dan Tehan and Simon Birmingham flew into Sydney on… Read More

Opinion: Australia must take the heat out of the political fundraising arms race

By Han Aulby, originally published in the Guardian 15 June 2020. Public trust in government is low. Regular allegations of MPs misspending public money do little to aid this. Reforms are needed to strengthen political culture and rebuild public trust. There are ongoing allegations of misspending of public money, whether in relation to the $1bn… Read More

Zali Steggall increasingly concerned about Morrison government’s Covid Commission

By Katharine Murphy, originally published in the Guardian 13 May 2020. The independent MP Zali Steggall says she is increasingly concerned about the Morrison government’s influential National Covid Coordination Commission, because there is “no transparency about its governance or processes”. With representatives of the commission to appear before a Senate inquiry to answer questions about… Read More

Calls to end ‘undemocratic adjournment of parliament

By Chris Knaus, originally published in the Guardian 11 May 2020. A former high court judge and public service chief have written to Scott Morrison calling for the full resumption of parliament, saying the current lack of accountability and scrutiny is “undemocratic and unprecedented”. A group of 10 former judges, leading lawyers, integrity experts, and… Read More

Hybrid parliament needed to safeguard Australian democracy during Covid-19 crisis

By Chris Knaus, originally published in the Guardian 28 April 2020. New briefing paper: Parliamentary sittings during COVID-19 crisis. Australia should urgently adopt the United Kingdom parliament’s hybrid model of in-person and online attendance to allow for greater scrutiny of government during the Covid-19 crisis, according to former senior judge and integrity expert Anthony Whealy.… Read More

COVID-19 ministerial powers need to be reined in

By Professor Joo Cheong Tham, originally published in the Canberra Times 27th April 2020. The COVID-19 crisis has seen extraordinary powers conferred upon individual Ministers. Under the Biosecurity Act, the Health Minister has emergency powers to issue requirements to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19. The Finance Minister now has at his disposal a… Read More

Democracy remains essential in the COVID-19 pandemic

By Professor Joo Cheong Tham, originally published in the Canberra Times on 13th April 2020. Should democracy be deferred in the COVID-19 pandemic? An unmistakable trend in this crisis has been to highly centralised, expert-driven government decision-making, with less space for democratic deliberation. The Commonwealth Parliament was adjourned to August (until it was recently recalled… Read More

AFR: Government exposed in sports rorts fallout

By Andrew Clark, originally published in the Australian Financial Review, 7th March 2020. A nation consumed with the coronavirus emergency may also soon connect with another political contagion infecting the Morrison government. The issue is the so-called sports rorts affair and the government’s resistance to a push for a tough ICAC-style federal anti-corruption body that… Read More

As more details emerge on the sports grants saga, clubs that missed out want answers

By Nadia Daly, 7.30 Report on 13th February 2020. NADIA DALY, REPORTER: Every afternoon, locals in Belconnen in Canberra’s north, grab a racquet and head to their local tennis club. But when the sun goes down, having a hit becomes a bit harder for some players. MARTIN KLEIN, PRESIDENT, BELCONNEN TENNIS CLUB: Tennis is a… Read More

7.30: How North Sydney Council won a $10 million pool upgrade grant earmarked for regions

By Paul Farrell, 7.30 Report, 26th February 2020. PAUL FARREL, REPORTER: Beneath the Sydney Harbour bridge, surrounded by world famous landmarks, sits one of the nation’s most picturesque pools. ZOE BAKER, NORTH SYDNEY COUNCILLOR: North Sydney Olympic Pool is, I’d say, a national icon. It’s an art deco pool that most of the world records… Read More

More than $100m donated to political parties from hidden sources in election year

By Christopher Knaus, originally published in the Guardian 11th February 2020. More than $100m in political donations from hidden sources was donated to the major parties during the election year, the greatest single amount in two decades. The Centre for Public Integrity has analysed the volume of so-called “dark money” – political party income with… Read More

RN Breakfast: Centre for Public Integrity prompts calls for creation of federal anti-corruption commission

Interview with Geoffrey Watson SC on RN Breakfast with Fran Kelly 11th February 2020. Llew O’Brien has been elected Deputy Speaker after defecting the Nationals party yesterday. The former Queensland police officer is a staunch supporter of a federal anti-corruption commission with strong powers. Calls for a so-called federal ICAC have intensified in recent weeks,… Read More

Opinion: McKenzie is the sacrificial lamb, but corruption runs deeper

By Stephen Charles, originally published Canberra Times 7th February 2020. If the Prime Minister thinks he has alleviated any public concerns that the Coalition government behaved improperly in the management of the sports grants program, or whether the only error was in Senator McKenzie’s membership of a Wangaratta shooting club, he is mistaken. Former judge… Read More

7.30: Government grants – how are they run and who benefits?

By Paul Farrell, originally published 5th February 2020 on ABC 7.30. PAUL FARRELL, REPORTER:  The Cronulla Sailing Club boasts million dollar views on Gunnamatta Bay, in the Prime Minister’s electorate of Cook.In 2017, it received some welcome news. It had secured a Federal Government grant. One of thousands awarded in electorates across the country, under… Read More

Liberal party received $4.1m in donations from property tycoon’s company

By Paul Karp and Chris Knaus, originally published in the Guardian 3rd February 2020. The Liberal party received $4.1m from a single donor before the 2019 election, one of the largest amounts in political history, dwarfing former leader Malcolm Turnbull’s $1.75m gift before the 2016 election. The donations, revealed in Australian Electoral Commission disclosures published… Read More